St. Patrick Close
Considering things to do in Dublin this weekend, then to study and examine books in the Marsh's library is like exploring the deep sea of Europe's cultural heritage. The library is a living example of a rare building which survived the test of time and is still being used for its purpose. Containing over 25,000 books the library with its dark oak book cases and elegant alcoves takes you to a trip through the rich Irish history.
Marsh's Library is one of many tourist attractions in Dublin, Ireland's first public library situated within the grounds of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the library contains 16th century (and much earlier) books, some with marginal comments by Dean Swift and others, and many still resting in their original shelf position since 1709.
The library celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2001. The library contains over 25,000 books relating to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, covering medicine, law, science, travel, navigation, mathematics, music, surveying and classical literature. One of many Dublins events, the full library catalogue is available for searching.
The library is open to the public, and particularly welcomes scholars and students.
Considering what to do in Dublin, Marsh's library is one of the very few 18th century buildings left in Dublin that is still being used for its original purpose. Many of the collections in the Library are still kept on the shelves allocated to them by Marsh and by Elias Bouhereau, the first librarian, when the Library was opened.
The Library was formally incorporated in 1707 by an Act of Parliament called An Act for settling and preserving a public library for ever. The Act vested the house and books in a number of religious and state dignitaries and officials and their successors as Governors and Guardians of the Library.
A beautiful tourist attractions in Dublin the interior of the library with its beautiful dark oak bookcases each with carved and lettered gables, topped by a mitre, and the three elegant wired alcoves or 'cages' where the readers were locked with rare books, remains unchanged since it was built three hundred years ago. It is a magnificent example of a 17th century scholars' library.
Marsh's Library is a charity. In recent years, however, thanks to an annual government grant and to the generosity of corporate and individual donors, it has improved facilities for readers and visitors, built a Conservation Bindery and, most important of all, now has a computerized catalogue available on the internet.
There are about three hundred manuscripts in the Library. One of many Dublins events, the most important is a volume of the Lives of the Irish Saints, dating from about 1400, and written in Latin. There are also medical, theological, legal and music manuscripts. The music in manuscript consists of fantasias for instruments and virginal, lute and lyra viol music by composers of the first half of the 17th century. There are also rare 16th century madrigals printed in Venice, Antwerp and London.
What to do in Dublin, to study and examine the books in Marsh's is to explore Europe's great cultural heritage. Marsh's Library is a treasury of what might be called the European mind; it is a rich source for studying the history of ideas, the birth of new ideas, the rise of science, and attacks on Christianity.
There is a large collection of liturgical works, missals, breviaries, books of hours of the Sarum use, bibles printed in almost every language, a great deal of theology and religious controversy. These collectors were men of scholarly tastes, and the scope of the subjects is surprisingly wide and varied. A separate room is reserved for books and periodicals relating to Irish history printed in the last hundred years.
Monday - Friday 9.30 - 5.00
Saturday 10.00 - 5.00.
Closed Tuesdays and Sundays.